Traveling without Ellie isn’t as much fun. It’s true it would have been difficult to have her with me, and I am glad, for practical reasons that will be clear, that I left her behind. But the cat was not a substitute. In fact, the cat was a pain, waking me several times by insistent meowing or jumping on the bedside table and knocking my iPhone off.
The bad: The exchange was disappointing, at best. First, the location was unfortunate. My fault–I didn’t do enough research. How many of you who have never been there know that Quebec has hills as steep as San Francisco? I certainly didn’t. I knew there was an upper and lower town connected by a funicular. What I didn’t know is that there are only 1 or 2 funiculars–otherwise it’s stairs. I also didn’t understand that the street where I stayed was halfway between upper and lower town. So no matter where I went I had to climb either coming or going. On the map, it all looked so close. In reality–aerobic workout.
So this limited me in terms of getting out. I did walk quite a bit and ended up taking more cabs than I normally would. But there was nothing near enough that I could just go out for a glass of wine. Going out was a major production, and mostly I didn’t at night.
More bad: The apartment itself was student dorm-like. The bed was comfortable (fortunately not the mattress on the floor that they use for guests) and there was a small balcony that looked out over–nothing. The place was a wreck–dirty clothes strewn about, dishes in the drainer, waste in the wastebaskets. The bathtub was stained, the towels were tissue thin. All of which didn’t overly bother me–but the front steps! Not something I would have attempted in the dark after a few glasses of wine. Not to mention having to haul Ellie up and down.The good: All the rest was fine, largely thanks to Carter and Alexandra’s friend, Barbara. She has lived in Quebec for nearly 50 years and speaks fluent French with a southern drawl from her native Mississippi! She picked me up at the airport, gave me an orientation tour by car and stopped with me at a grocery so I could provision for the first night. She also offered me the hospitality of her 18th century townhouse in the old city, which I reluctantly declined because I had to take care of the cat. That darned cat.
I did the usual tourist things. Highlights were the marche on the port, shopping for a new outfit on the very quaint rue St. Paul/ st. Pierre, lunch at the chateau Frontenac, a drive with Barbara to the ile d’orleans and generally just being a flaneur. Almost everyone I encountered spoke English though many were happy that I spoke to them in French. One funny anecdote: at the hotel Frontenac, some tourists from California asked me about getting to the lower town and complimented me on my English!
Several very good meals. Quebec has over 1200 restaurants, not counting the patisseries and bars. I did have poutine, which was tasty but so filling I only ate a quarter of the portion and then took a nap the rest of the afternoon.